Background

 

 

Conductive Education was developed by a Hungarian physician Professor Andras Peto (1893-1967).

Andras Peto (1893-1967) was a practitioner of physical rehabilitation whose work provided the foundation for conductive education.

His father was confined to life in a wheelchair because of Parkinson's disease; his outlook on life was probably influenced more by his mother who dictated a very structured life.

After the First World War, Peto moved to Vienna to study medicine, which at that time was the European centre for intellectuals. He gained his first proffesional experiences in various hospitals in Austria. Later, he became head of several Austrian clinics and health institutes.

Between 1930 and 1938, Peto published many literary, philosophical and medical works.

In 1938, Peto returned to Budapest where he took refuge in the basement of a house owned by a friend. Here he spent most of his time working and playing with the daughter of his hostess who had cerebal palsy.

His institute, the National Institue of Motor Therapy officially opened in 1952. Instead of following the medical model of providing therapies, Peto created a framework for an educational model in which chidren with disabilities could have an education that met their particular physical and intellectual needs.

So impressed with Professor Peto’s work with motor disordered children, the Ministry of Education funded his institute in 1963 and Conductor training was formally recognised. Since 1968, by state decree, all Hungarian physicians are required to register children with motor disorders with the Peto Institute.

On Peto’s death in 1967, his protégé, neurologist Dr Maria Hari, was appointed Director. Under her direction Conductive Education has been further developed and programmes developed for children with Spina Bifida and outpatient groups. It is now known at the Peto Andras State Institute for Conductive Education of the Motor Disordered, and Conductors College. The four year Conductor degree course involves practical work with literally hundreds of motor disordered children and adults whilst also studying theoretical topics such as neurology, anatomy, physiology and conductive education theory. Graduates are qualified in Hungary as both primary school teachers and conductors.

Following the BBC documentary ‘Standing up for Joe’ in the late 1980’s, many New Zealand families traveled with their motor disordered children to Hungary to attend the Peto Institute. All were warmly received by Dr Hari and her staff and returned to New Zealand highly motivated, well trained and totally convinced that Conductive Education was what their children needed.